BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — In the digital age, scammers are turning to online dating sites. A recent survey released by AARP found that 27 percent of adults in the United States, or someone they know, have encountered an online dating scam. And 11 percent of adults, or someone they know, have been a victim of an online dating scams.
WBZ NewsRadio’s Tina Gao spoke with AARP’s Director of Fraud Prevention Kathy Stokes about the scams, how to prevent them, and what to do if one happens.
“We are getting increasingly comfortable doing things online and that also means looking for platonic or even romantic relationships online. And the scammers are actually following us,” Stokes said.
According to Stokes, the scammer may set up a fake profile, with a fake or stolen photograph, on a dating site to target victims.
“They will look for opportunities to ingratiate themselves with you and overtime they will convince you that you’re in love, or that you’re the best friend ever, and they start to ask you for money,” Stokes said.
Stokes’ tips on spotting and preventing fraud
1. Look up the individual’s picture on google images.
“If it shows up somewhere else online, and someone else’s name is attached to it, that’s a scammer. They’ve stolen that picture.” Stokes said.
2. Scammers may want to immediately switch communication away from the dating site to email or text messaging.
“You just really want to take your time with someone. If someone is trying to rush you off of the dating site, or rush you into professing love, something might be going on there. So, slow it down, ask more questions than you answer, and just be vigilant,” Stokes said.
3. A scammer may try to ask for a mailing address or place of employment.
“A scammer might often try to get you to even give them your mailing address so that they can send you a box of candy or a teddy bear, or try to get from you where you work. And they can use that information to either cause problems for you down the road with trying to extort you in some way. Or they can use that information and steal your identity, and then open accounts in your name,” Stokes said.
4. If fraud is identified, end contact and report the incident.
“Cut off contact immediately,” Stokes said.
Stokes recommends visiting AnnualCreditReport.com for information on how to freeze your credit so that an account cannot be opened in your name. Incidents can also be reported to local law enforcement and the Federal Trade Commission.
Listen to the full interview.